Run Time: Two hours and 30 minutes, including one 15-minute intermission.
Prepare for a high-energy, infectious mix of theatre, poetry, jazz, blues, hip-hop, boleros and salsa as UNIVERSES digs into the story and legacy of an American revolution. Four decades ago, the Black Panthers and Puerto Rican Young Lords were young activists providing food and health care in their impoverished communities while in a desperate struggle to survive the systematic dismantling of their movements. Now they are 60-somethings untangling a traumatic past and an unclear future. In ensemble, OSF actors and UNIVERSES toggle between then and now in this meticulously researched, compelling work of fiction.
An opening at an art gallery of works inspired by the 1960s and ’70s activities of the Black Panthers and the Young Lords presents a unique opportunity for members of both groups to gather and reflect on the past and present. As those from younger generations confront party members, they wrestle with how the ideals of yesterday are reflected in the present.
Old lovers reconnect, and friends who haven’t talked in 25 to 30 years reunite. Meanwhile, former frenemies—and informants, too—meet and catch up. As the evening proceeds, however, certain facts that were taken as truths come into question. Songs and poetic monologues flare up to reveal the inner thoughts of party leaders as well as rank and file who had contributed to the party’s cause. By evening’s end, history does not seem as black and white as it sometimes reads in history books.